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Ask Dr. Meg: Balancing Work, Parenting and Life

Finding balance as a parent is less about perfection and more about priorities. Try these tricks to keep life from getting in the way of what really matters.
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
November 28, 2016
Minute Read

People often ask me, “How do you balance work, parenting, and life?” As one who has struggled to maintain balance all of my life, I feel for those who are currently trying to accomplish this. What I’ve learned in my years of being a pediatrician, wife, and mom is that the key to a balanced life is knowing your priorities.

Make your priorities crystal clear and write them down.

This sounds a bit obvious, but what gets us in trouble isn’t that we don’t know what our priorities are; rather it’s the ability to keep them front and center on a daily basis.

Most of us who believe in God know that He comes first. But do we pray daily? We also know that our spouse and kids are more important than work, but do we make sure that we listen to our spouse and kids as much as we do friends, co-workers or employees? Probably not.

If you write down: God first, marriage second, kids third, work fourth, then making these your priorities will be much easier.

God first, marriage second, kids third, work fourth.

Keep it simple.

I try and keep things very simple. If you want to have a good day and you believe that God comes first, start the day praying. You can keep it short, but asking God’s direction for the day and thanking Him that you get to live another will lend itself to an entirely different type of day.

One thing to remember: making God a priority means praying and listening, not simply working for Him 24/7. There is a big difference. Most of us are more comfortable working for someone rather than being with them.

If family comes second and work third, then make time to talk to family members and listen to them as much as you would to a friend or employee. The truth is, most of us are much nicer to strangers than to our spouses and kids. Reverse that.

Redefine balance.

I’ve always been intrigued by the modern concept of balance. We, especially women, believe that maintaining balance is a bit like dieting: eat a little of everything each day and you’ll keep a healthy weight. So we try to do a little bit of many things each week and end up exhausted.

Maybe the reason behind much of our frustration and exhaustion is an unrealistic definition of “balance”. The truth is, we aren’t supposed to do everything at once.

I was worried many years ago when my children were young about doing enough volunteer work. A wise pastor once told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll die right on time.” In other words, if there is something that you really need to do, God will give you the time to do it, whether it is in one year or ten years. In the meantime, take a deep breath, make peace with the reality of not being a superhero and do the best you can with what is in front of you today.

Parents: take a deep breath and make peace with the reality of not being a superhero.

We treat kids as though they are adaptable, malleable and easily raised. They aren’t. They need our time, attention and sweat. Most of us parents—employed and stay-at-home—aren’t spending enough time with our kids. We often need to give up volunteering, running kids around crazily and actually be with them. Then, later in life, when they are gone, we can work more and volunteer all we want.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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